MIFFLIN TOWNSHIP, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — FAA and NTSB investigators are trying to determine what caused a deadly helicopter crash outside Berwick.
It happened Saturday morning around 9:30 in Mifflin Township.
An eyewitness sensed something terrible was about to happen minutes before it did. As emergency crews pulled helicopter debris from a tree, William Barratt tried to make sense of what he witnessed earlier from his home along Mifflin X Road.
“Thought he was pretty damn low. So, I started taking pictures,” Barratt said.
Barratt shared with 28/22 News photos of the crop dusting helicopter as it was being piloted by 39-year-old Theodore Farwell of Orangeville.
“He was skimming the top of them ears of corn,” he explained.
Farwell was crop dusting a large cornfield Saturday morning, making several passes per load of pesticide, but what Barratt found peculiar during one particular dusting, the helicopter stopped after a single pass.
“He left and he flew over my neighbor’s house and I thought something wasn’t right,” he described.
Barratt’s instincts told him to get in his car and follow the direction of the helicopter. While he lost sight of it, he spotted something else.
“There was a fire right here in front of this house, and then there were some other fires going in through the cornfield. I didn’t know exactly where he was and so I saw that it [helicopter] was flipped over,” Barratt said.
Bystanders and first responders pulled Farwell from the wreckage. He died at the scene, something Barratt feared could happen when he first spotted the low-flying helicopter on what started as a quiet Saturday morning.
“And I just knew. I just knew when I was sitting there. I said to myself, he’s gonna crash.”
An autopsy on the victim is scheduled for Monday.
About 20 PPL customers lost power because of the crash, but power was restored by Saturday evening.